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Music Studies Colloquium: Seth Brodsky (University of Chicago), "There Is No Such Thing As The Composer's Voice"

Colloquium: Colloquium/Symposium/Conference | April 21 | 4:30 p.m. | 128 Morrison Hall


Department of Music


Seth Brodsky (University of Chicago), "There Is No Such Thing As The Composer's Voice"

Brodsky's scholarly and critical work pursues a number of related lines of inquiry. The first concerns music of the 20th and 21st centuries, in particular the field of “composerly production,” with all the openness this connotes: how is “the composer” constructed, and how does she function culturally, discursively, technologically, mythically? A second line of inquiry involves the role of unconscious processes, particularly as figured in psychoanalytic discourse, in the making and experiencing of music. Here Brodsky is especially interested in musical influence and intertextuality—what Lacan calls the “locus of the other”—in the work of living, recently deceased, or frequently resurrected composers. How, for instance, do contemporary composers fantasize and shepherd their affiliations with their musical past and precursors, and what role does the psychoanalytic unconscious play in these fantasies?

Brodsky's current projects revolve around the notoriously slippery concept of repetition. In particular, he is interested in thinking about aesthetic modernism less as a proverbial “search for the new” then as a larger project in resisting or “breaking” repetition, whether it be the repetition of forms, laws, and languages, of genres and styles, or of themes, patterns, motives, etc. What ramifications does this resistance have for music as a repetitive practice—as a way of practicing repetition, but also of performing its very possibility?


concerts@berkeley.edu